by Afra Nariman
Werewolf by Night (2022)
Director: Michael Giacchino
Stars: Gael Garcia Bernal, Laura Donnelly
Did Marvel just make a (semi) character-driven film? Well, this is as close as they have ever come, or likely ever will come to doing that. Werewolf by Night is refreshing for its simplicity within the context of the MCU. Not every damn movie needs to be about a war. Thankfully, this movie gets that. As the film goes on, it becomes more about the two characters than about any war-driven plot about the end of the world/universe as we know it. No origin stories. No long, winded build-up. We’re simply placed at a time/place for one night and are introduced to the characters, just as they are being introduced to one another. The world they inhabit is also introduced to us via limited explanation, which further de-centers the overarching plot, placing more focus on the characters themselves.
The film captures the essence of the “Halloween movie” in that it tells the story of “one fateful night,” where anything could happen and unprovoked things do happen, to characters we didn’t know anything about prior to the events of the film.
The endless release of TV shows that have only further established Marvel’s formulaic structure, which seems to have dipped in quality in this current “phase,” has become tiresome and has caused a massive loss of general excitement in their product. Here, I felt something new and untainted — something not tied down by the constraints of 25+ films that it has to find continuity with. Aside from the momentary slips of Marvel-comedy — such as, “I’ll be rotting for you” — Werewolf by Night is a breath of fresh air in the realm of the MCU/Marvel Studios. Not to say there aren’t some formulaic elements still at play, but generally it feels more crafted. I hope this is seen as a successful tangent and we get one-offs like this going forward, rather than too many more new TV shows that convolute and overfeed the content of the MCU.
Last thing I want to say about Werewolf by Night is regarding its categorization as a “horror film.” Recently, my little cousins expressed to me that they love horror films. They are too young to watch most horror films; but they’re very smart and know enough about the genre based on conversations and their limited engagement with the genre. Later that day, we watched Coraline together, and referencing particular scenes, my little cousin would go, “oh that’s kind of horror!” While they aren’t quite old enough for classic horror films yet (i.e.: Halloween, The Evil Dead, The Thing, Dawn of the Dead, etc.) — they enjoy the elements of “horror” as much as they can at this time. Now here comes Werewolf by Night — made by Marvel Studios (and they love Marvel movies) — which embodies enough darkness (especially in the final sequences) to classify as “horror,” yet still falls under the form of films that Marvel’s wider range of audience can watch and enjoy. I look forward to talking to my cousins about Werewolf by Night.
MY RATING /5:
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